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Biggest danger to UK universities' reputation abroad is the Home Office

12 December 2012 | last updated: 11 December 2015

Speaking ahead of a speech today by home secretary, Theresa May, on immigration, UCU said hardline and ill-conceived policies on immigration remained the biggest barrier to attracting the best and brightest brains from across the globe to UK universities.

The union said policies that might play well to a domestic audience risked doing huge damage to the UK's image abroad and cited recent headlines around the world of students being stranded after the UK Border Agency stripped London Metropolitan University of its right to teach non-EU students.

UCU general secretary, Sally Hunt, said: 'The UK has long been one of the most popular destinations for foreign students because of our proud international reputation for excellence. However, we cannot rest on our laurels as competition from other countries increases.

'Hardline and ill-conceived policies from the Home Office might play well to certain sections of the domestic audience, but they risk doing real damage overseas. The recent London Metropolitan University episode prompted headlines across the globe that did real harm to our reputation.

'It is particularly worrying that the home secretary does not seem to be aware of the damage these policies do. In a drive to seem tough on immigration, we risk pushing the best and brightest brains from around the world to universities in our competitor countries.'

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